England ensured their 100% record in the Autumn Internationals continued through a flattering 30-6 defeat of Australia, denting hopes Down Under of usurping the English to 2nd in the World Rankings.
The victory for Eddie Jones’ men is their biggest winning margin against the Wallabies, but Michael Cheika’s team will feel aggrieved by the Television Match Official (TMO) decisions.
Tries for Jonny May, Jonathon Joseph, Danny Care and Elliot Daly secured the win, but the scoreline did not reflect the ferocity of the contest. Three quarters into the match, despite a couple of sin bins to captain Michael Hooper and Kurtley Beale, the Aussies were firm on England’s heels. Eddie Jones said after the match, naively, that it wasn’t as close a contest, but had TMO decisions gone in Australia’s favour, we could be looking at a very different story.
The first try to be rescinded occurred late into the first half. Excellent intricacy by the Australians led to a grubber kick by Tevita Kuridrani, intended for Marika Koroibete, but finished by Hooper. Unfortunately for the away side, Hooper was offside when the grubber was kicked, an outcome correctly ruled, but gaining sarcastic applause from the Australian coaching staff.
Another try was chalked off in far more contentious circumstances in the second half. With England leading 13-6, an excellent break from Koroibete, with a swift interchange from Bernard Foley before Koroibete grounded the ball looked to have levelled the affair. However, Stephen Moore was judged to have obstructed Chris Robshaw in his efforts to make a last ditch tackle. The TMO in ruling out the points irked Cheika profoundly, even leading to a confrontation with a support.
Before that, two penalties from Owen Farrell and one by Reece Hodge had left the contest finely balanced. In drizzly conditions, the kicking contest was going to be essential. In the scrum Australia countered English size with tenacity, making duels between the forwards enthralling. Both sides showcased excellent try saving defences, but mid-way into the second half the tide significantly turned.
A majestic break between the lines by Samu Kerevi almost led to Australia being a shoe-in for 5 points, but his pass could not find a supporting Kuridrani. As England swept up, a hopeful punt to touch by George Ford trickled agonisingly close to touch. Inept covering by Beale, who starred for Wasps last season, let the pace of Daly steal a march, prodding it towards the tryline to score. TMO again judged in England’s favour. Farrell converted.
At 13-6, even after the disallowed try, the Wallabies had a chance to resurrecting their cause through a penalty. But inexplicably they chose to go for touch, losing ball in the resulting phase. With 15 men on the field, those in green and gold were playing some fantastic phases of ball-in-hand rugby. But strength-in-depth in replacements handed England an unmountable lead.
Two excellent kicks behind the Australian wave by replacement scrum-half Danny Care provided opportunities for Joseph and May to score respectively. May, fresh from already scoring 10 tries for his new side Leicester, then picked up a loose pass before galloping downfield. Stopped just short, he returned the favour to Care to make the final score 30-6. The English were tested, but excellent game management and resources from the bench provided Jones’ 5th straight win over Cheika’s side. A sweet start to potential English dominance over the Aussies in sport this winter.
England and Australia both finish their Autumn campaigns next weekend, at home to Samoa and away to Scotland respectively.
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